If you could see into your future, just once, how far ahead would you look?
Whenever an outsider came to consult me in the Walled Sanctuary, "How far?" was always the first question I asked. After, you know, "What's your name?" and "Can you believe the weather we've been having lately?", things like that. I've found that casual conversation helps to put Normals more at ease when they're facing a strange woman in purple robes and a buffalo mask.
So. The future. When I finally asked the question, it tended to really throw Normals off. They just wanted to know how something in their lives was going to turn out. They didn't think about when. After asking the question over and over, I began to think about it myself. When would I look, if I could? If they'd let me? I was young when I first asked myself that - maybe twelve, it's hard to know in a Sanctuary - and I kept asking for years and years afterwards. When would I look? What would I See?
It's not completely unprecedented for a Seer to ask to look into their own future, but it's not exactly encouraged. The opposite, in fact. They can't stop you from asking, of course, but they do a good job of letting you know that Seeing can be dangerous, especially when it's done for personal reasons. I understood. I followed the rules. But I never stopped wanting to know, needing to know. And, at last, I got my chance.
It's hard to tell what an Abnormal is thinking or feeling behind their mask, and it was even harder then, sitting in a large room lit by a single candle, looking at the Council members where they sat across from me - Dog Healer to the left, Bird Seer to the right, Antelope Reader between them.
"Welcome, Buffalo Seer," said Dog Healer.
"I am pleased to be here. Thank you for granting me this audience." I tried to sit up straight and tall on my low stool.
"You have shown great diligence in your duties and respect for our order," Dog Healer said.
I couldn't read anything in their monotone. They'd gotten much better at hiding their emotions. "That is kind of you to say," I replied, wondering.
There was silence for a moment. Antelope Reader's mask dipped forward slightly, their curved horns glinting in the candlelight. "Because of your consistency, we are granting you your request. You now have permission to look into your own future."
I almost fell off my stool. I couldn't believe it.
"Remember," added Bird Seer, shaking their beak for emphasis, "the Council will see whatever it is that you do. Do you accept?"
I had to take a moment to catch my breath and steady my voice. "Of course. I have no fear of what is to come."
Antelope Reader nodded. "Very well, you may begin."
I'd decided long ago. Three years. Not too close, not too far. Maybe - probably - I wouldn't see anything special, but I'd always had a feeling, or at least a hope, that my future would be different from my past. Slowly, reverently, like so many times before, I opened myself to the light. It began to flow into me, then through me and out again, dancing, into the room, gleaming back from the masks of the Council, filling the darkness with the memory of sunlight filtered through clear water. And as I watched, I began to See.
A room, richly furnished. Someone thin and very tall coming towards me. A man, I think. It's... strange here. Why are there no robes? No masks?
The light grows brighter. Forbidden words begin to whisper through my mind. "Home". "Love". "Husband". The man's warm smile fades a little as he tilts his head at me, puzzled. Grayish-brown skin. Dark gray eyes. Long, black hair.
The light starts to fade, but not until it gives me one more word.
The light was gone. I blinked my eyes, dumbstruck. It was impossible. It was illegal. I looked at the others, but they were silent, as shocked as I was.
"You all must have seen it as well," I said at last. "Have I made a mistake? Was that truly correct?"
They all shifted uncomfortably in their seats. "You know as well as I that false visions are an impossibility," said Antelope Reader. "What we saw today will someday come to pass." They paused, shaking their head slowly. "What will you do now?"
Do. What would I do. This stumped me completely at first. I never imagined there would be anything to do. I'd spent my entire life studying, sleeping, eating, waiting, reading, sleeping, eating, waiting... "With your permission, I wish to leave immediately," I heard myself say.
The three nodded curtly, in unison. "It is likely for the best," said Dog Healer. "We give you leave."
Bird Seer heaved the smallest of sighs. "A Carrier will be called to send you out of the Walled Sanctuary. Is there anywhere you wish to be taken, specifically?"
I thought this over carefully. I'd studied maps of the local land fraction, and though I had no idea where my future husband might be, I did have an idea of where best to start looking for him. "Yes, to the capital city, Mierre."
"A wise choice. It will be as you request," said Bird Seer. They faded into the darkness, along with Dog Healer, leaving me alone with Antelope Reader and my own thoughts. My thoughts soon abandoned me as well, wandering back to explore the man in my vision.
I jumped. I'd forgotten anyone else was in the room. "Yes?"
"The supplies you will need for your journey are being brought now. After that, you will be sent on your way."
"Good." I sensed, rather than saw, Antelope Reader narrow their eyes at me. "Do not let your vision of the future blind you to present necessities. Many go astray and suffer hardship due to such negligence. The society of Normals is not meant for us. You will not be welcome there. Remain cautious."
I nod solemnly, but my mind is already drifting away again. Normals. Mierre. January. Future.
What seems like only a moment later, Bird Seer and Dog Healer reappear.
"The time has come," said Bird Seer, resuming their seat. "All is prepared."
"Farewell, Buffalo Seer. You will be sorely missed." I thought I could hear something in Dog Healer's voice now. I felt a small stab of pain in response, but it was quickly lost in my growing excitement. I stood and bowed respectfully to the Council.
"Thank you for your assistance."
"And thank you as well for your expected cooperation. Safe travels." Antelope Reader's tone became firm, pointed. "And I do not expect to see you in this Sanctuary again."
I didn't even try to keep the smile off my face. "We are certainly agreed."